Last reviewed on May 22, 2013   —  32 Comments

Exchange 2003 is not supported by Outlook 2013. Outlook 2013 does not support many legacy public folder functions, such as the Free/Busy service. Direct booking of calendar resources is also no longer supported.

While this is disappointing to a number of people still using Exchange 2003, it didn't come as much of a surprise. Even ignoring the fact that Exchange 2003 is 10 years old and long out of support, the precedent was set many years ago: Outlook 2010 doesn't work with Exchange 2000 and Outlook 2007 doesn't work with Exchange 5.5. Outlook 2016 probably won't work with Exchange 2007.

Outlook 2013 supports Exchange ActiveSync and while you can use EAS with Hotmail accounts, it won't work with Exchange 2003's (or Gmail's) implementation of EAS. You are limited to POP3 or IMAP with Exchange 2003.

If you want to try Outlook 2013, you can use it with a Hotmail account, Office 365, POP3, or IMAP account if you don't have access to an Exchange 2007, 2010, or 2013 server.

The Office 2013 / Office 365 trial includes an Exchange server account and Office 365 supports "connected accounts". As long as you can use POP3 or IMAP to collect your Exchange 2003 email, you can pull it into the Office 365 mailbox. When you use a connected account, you can reply using the correct email account.

After hearing that Exchange 2003 is not supported by Outlook 2013, one user had this to say:

"What?! My Android works fine with Exchange 2003 but Outlook 2013 doesn't?"

Android, like iPhones, use Exchange Active Sync to access your Exchange mailbox. EAS gives you the basic features of email, calendaring, contacts. Outlook uses Extended MAPI and takes full advantage of everything Exchange Server has to offer. While Outlook 2013 also supports EAS accounts, it requires the full-featured version of EAS found in Exchange 2010, not the older EAS found in Exchange 2003.

Note that Outlook 2013 does not support connecting to an Exchange server using EAS. This is by design for a number of reasons: it results in a degraded experience and can negatively affect performance of the Exchange server.

To get an idea of what your phone supports and what EAS provides, see Comparison of Exchange ActiveSync clients. (Wikipedia)


  1. Christophe says

    Hello !
    Thank you for the information...
    Is it possible to use outlook 2010 with office 2013 applications ?

    thks !

    • Diane Poremsky says

      Yes, you can. Open Add/Remove programs and do a custom uninstall, removing only Outlook. Then install outlook 2010 - choose the custom install if you are installing from an office suite. You may need to do a repair of office 2013 after installing 2010.

      Some features won't work, but if you copy winword.exe to the same folder with outlook.exe, spellcheck as you type will work.

    • Mike Brach says

      I just setup Outlook 2013 as an exchange client on a SBS 2003 server on my Surface Windows 8 RT. (Self Signed Certificate).

      1. open a web browser (run as administrator)

      2. Goto your-server.your-domain.extension/exchange (

      3. Continue to website

      4. at top of browser (Red bar) click to view cert.

      5. install cert.

      6. Select Place cert in the following store

      7. Click Browse

      8. Select trusted Root cert Authorities

      9. OK, Next, Finish, Yes, OK, OK

      10. Close Browser

      11. Open Browser and go back to site again.

      12. If red bar is gone you are successful.

      Now add exchange account to outlook 13

      Domain: your-domain.local
      user: your-domain-user-name (without )
      Password: your-domain-user-password


  2. YoYoDFW says

    Keep in mind that many users have SBS 2003 which was current as of 2008 - it was the latest you could get. So Exchange 2003 might have been released in 2003, but it has iterations that were the latest available as of just under 5 years ago.

    • Diane Poremsky says

      It's still 5 yr old software, with 3 never versions of Exchange available, and Microsoft historically has limited outlook to 3 exchange- current + 2 older.

  3. MickO'Hara says

    Why does Microsoft insist on making things worse not better. I understand the financial imperative of generating more income, but examples such as Metro 8 on a commercial network and outlook 2013's incompatability with 2003, and I never thought I'd say this, have me wishing for a serious networking contender OS. Apple step up. Linux organise yourselves.

    • Diane Poremsky says

      There were a lot of changes to Exchange in the 10 years since Exchange 2003 was released and the "experience" would be crappy in Outlook 2013 because a lot of things wouldn't work right. Microsoft has never supported more than 3 versions of Exchange in any outlook version, so its nothing new.

  4. hatemicrosoftpolicy says

    If Microsoft woul be interested in a good service for their customers, they would allow at least a basic sync to outlook 2003. I dont give a shit if my experience is "crappy" i want to read my mails. This is all about getting more money. End of the story. What is the problem in supporting older versions? Things can work right if you want them to work right. by the way....

    • Diane Poremsky says

      You can get your Exchange 2003 email in Outlook 2013 but you need to use POP3 or IMAP, not exchange services.

      One could argue that if they only cared about getting money, they'd make it work so more people would update to outlook 2013. :) As it stands, a lot of Exchange 2003 sites are not upgrading.

  5. w says

    ill second the notion that not supporting exchange 2k3 with outlook 2013 was simply stupid. it doubt it would have taken much to continue the api for ex 2k3, even if they didn't want to officially support it. this is a Microsoft blunder in my opinion, but then it seems like they have a bunch of newbie interns up in Redmond designing software now, and really have no concept of ten year life cycle or that people are trying to maximize their value by using older software. this is not the first major idiot decision I have seen by M$. they quit supporting USB sync smartphone to outlook with windows 8 smartphones, wanting to push people's data into the great, secure, government-sponsored cloud! if M$ doesn't wake up and they keep pushing people into alternate products, guess what, the office cash cow will run itself dry; as people leave.

    Regarding open license program, which offers the downgrade privilege, it seems to me that that's about $110 more per copy of office std versus h/b, so that is another bummer. And it appears like you cannot downgrade retail office 2013 home/business. so that's a dead end. And with the misstep of not allowing to migrate 2013 license to another PC (which has been corrected), it appears like the only cloud-based software up in Redmond is coming from a joint.

    I'm just another early warning sign M$. wake up, your are loosing.

    • Diane Poremsky says

      It would have required quite a bit of work to support Exchange 2003, otherwise a lot of Outlook 2013 features would be "broken". You can use IMAP or POP3 with Exchange 2003 accounts and get about the same working features as you'd get if it supported Exchange 2003 as is. I know its disappointing, but unfortunately, it would be a bad user experience.

  6. Helmut Lieb says

    Not sure you are right on this one. We tested an Office 15 Beta and it worked fine with Exchange 2003!!!!!!!!!
    This decision seems to have been made purely to push sales. My Clients stopped buying 2013 products all together - this one is backfiring at MS.

    • Diane Poremsky says

      It never worked in the beta builds I had though the private beta program. POP3 and IMAP could be used with Exchange 2003, but not Exchange services.

    • Diane Poremsky says

      I don't recall if its listed in OWA options in Exchange 2003 - you should ask your email admin.

  7. Dave Williams says

    Is there a way of having Calendars sync between Exchange 2003 and Outlook 2013? IMAP is a fine work around for the MAIL items (all be it a tad awkward looking) but I seem to have a lot of items missing in the calendar.

    • Diane Poremsky says

      If you could share it as an ics, but it would only be read-only. Not a good solution. Offhand, that is the only thing I can think of.

  8. scott says

    This is the LAST straw!

    We have a small business (ten people). We can't afford to hire an IT department and constantly upgrade enormous amounts of software just to process emails, do simple spreadsheets, and write letters.

    We'd love to continue using our MS software. But this loyalty has gotten way too expensive (and time-consuming!). So we're pulling out of Microsoft-land. Nothing personal, dropping MS is just good business.


    • Diane Poremsky says

      You don't need to upgrade Office all the time - you can continue to use your older versions of Office, even on new computers.

    • Diane Poremsky says

      Don't confuse "not compatible" (or "not supported") with "doesn't work". I've only tested Outlook 2003 on Windows 8, but I expect the older versions will work the same - some features don't work or don't work as expected, it might be a little buggy, but it should be mostly serviceable, if you really don't want to buy a new version yet.

  9. Paul says

    One could also argue that if one's company have new users, one would need to purchase an open license (pricey) office and downgrade to office 2010. Retail packs are not downgrade-able (license wise). If one do indeed want to run Word 2013 or Excel 2013 with Outlook 2010, one would need 2 licenses (not allowed to mix versions). If indeed one can only afford one license per user, would be forced to upgrade one's Exchange server, won't it?

    • Diane Poremsky says

      If they don't have Office 2010 (or older) licenses available, they need to upgrade Exchange or move to office 365 Exchange online. Or have the users use OWA.

  10. Milapsingh says

    It is frustrating and annoying that MS has deliberately chosen to trouble clients buying Office 2013 by not allowing Outlook to configure with MS Exchange Server 2003. I had just started liking the overall experience of using Office 2013 and would hate to roll back to Office 2007.

    • Diane Poremsky says

      You could use it with IMAP or POP3 (but will lose calendar and contacts)... there are a lot of features that were changed enough to give a poor experience or that won't work as expected against Exchange 2003 as an Exchange service.

  11. scotru says

    Even if I remove all mail profiles for the Exchange 2003 server, I still get an error "The resource that you are trying to use is located on an unsupported version of Microsoft Exchange. Contact your e-mail administrator for assistance." Is there someway to make Outlook 2013 ignore the presence of Exchange 2003 in a domain?

    I'm migrating this domain to Office 365, but I can't get rid of the Exchange 2003 server until the migration is complete.

    • Diane Poremsky says

      No, sorry, AFAIK, you can't make Outlook ignore it because its picking it up it's presence from the active directory. If the 2003 server is being used for public folder replication or anything like that, it's in the AD.

  12. Tulipan says

    Exchange Server 2003 extended support ends in 2014! Does anybody have experience with Zentyal? I read that it´s a drop-in replacement for Microsoft Exchange Server. It´s opensource and you can download it from Cheers!

  13. Ryszard says

    Couple years ago I bought MS Office 2007. When I started using second Exchange Server address I had to buy new Office, because Outlook 2007 says that it can be only one Exchange Server type address. A few months ago I wanted to buy Outlook 2010, but Microsoft doesn't sell it anymore, so they sold me 2013 (really bad luck number). Wonderful!. Now I can create 2 server exchange addresses, but after installation I found out, that one of servers is 2003 and this new Outlook I can threw in the trash, because there is no even downgrades for individual license. How they treat me? I feel like a fool. You pay for new Mercedes and you get old chock-wagon.

    • Diane Poremsky says

      Ouch. I would have looked for office 2010 or outlook 2010 at places like amazon and ebay - you can usually find a license. If you only need email, you can use IMAP for the Exchange 2003 server (assuming they have IMAP enabled), of course, you could have done that with Outlook 2007 too.

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